A new island discovered; new treasure awaits as well as new dangers!
|Designer(s)||Angie Anderson, Peter Diffin||Artist(s)||Joe Ruiz||Publisher||
Gem Hunt Games
The island of Pacifica has been recently discovered, and explorers have found many treasures hidden across the vast landscape. You were hired by wealthy individuals who wants specific gems for various works of art. As gem hunters, you will travel into the mountains, desert, and jungle regions in search of these precious gemstones; however, there are many threats you may need to overcome in your travels. Welcome to the game, Gem Hunt.
Players will receive Quest Cards throughout the game listing what gemstones are needed for the listed piece of art as well as the value of that item once completed. You will begin your adventure in Gem Town where you can get a side job to earn money for your expedition, find new clients, and sell off unneeded gems you find during your travel. Once you are ready to set out, you can take one of multiple exits from town to head into the dangerous regions of the island. After every full movement action through these regions, you will encounter a fate card, which could be a new companion, equipment, or a threat; you will face many of these Fate Cards by rolling an eight sided die and read the outcome based on that roll. Once you reach the mines, you can attempt to dig up the rough gemstones, but be careful, your tools could break if you aren't lucky.
Once you have the rough gems needed, you can get them refined and properly faceted based in Gem Town. Once you have all of the necessary faceted gems for a quest, you can return to Gem Town to meet with your client to hand over the Gems and complete the quest. The game also provides multiple ways to play altering the end game condition, which may be based on time, completed quest value, or the first person to complete a quest.
Box and Components
This is a prototype version of the game so the components will change and could be impacted by stretch goals of the Kickstarter campaign; I will refer to what is expected to come with the game currently based on the rules for the game.
If it weren't for a few minor things with the box finish, the rules book, and a few minor things, I would almost think this was the finished game. The quality of the cards and components are really good. I didn't find the cards to be too flimsy and felt good holding them due to the card stock type used. The artwork appears to be finalize, is very nice looking, and fits the theme of the game well.
The game board is fairly large with 6 sections that fold together much like a Ticket to Ride map. It includes the three major regions that were described earlier as well as Gem Town. The layout and artwork on the map is good and certainly not bland. We had no questions about where things where or reading the text for the locations. The size of the spaces are also good to easily allow two players to occupy the same location; the only exception is maybe with the jeep. We weren't clear if we were to move our player piece and the jeep together when a player had it; it did become clunky moving both at the same time. I believe for future games, the owner will take their character standee back in front of them and use the jeep as their piece until they lose it. The layout is also nice because Gem Town is at the center of the map making traveling back and forth relatively painless.
The game will come with 12 player cards and wooden character markers of different colors; I believe there may be a stretch goal for character standees (as shown below) that match each of the character cards as well (refer to the officially Kickstarter campaign for more details). Each character have 2-3 abilities unique to that character that may provide special movement options, additional carrying capacity, protections against certain types of Fate Cards. Each character also has a Strength and Skill stat; these are used for Fate Card challenges where you will add these values to those rolls.
There are four decks of Fate Cards that correspond with the different regions (and beaten path) on the island. Within each of these decks, there are 60 cards that may bring the players good (new allies, equipment, abilities, or free gems) or bad (snakes, bats, thugs, and natural disasters) fortune. This is a major part of what will cause each game to be unique. With 240 cards that will be drawn a random depending on where the player goes, it is highly unlikely you will see the same cards coming out each and every game. In our games, only a couple cards came out that were used in prior games.
There are three basic types of Fate Cards.
Events: These cards must be performed immediately. Sometimes, they require an eight sided dice roll and other times the effects are immediately. They are very detailed about how their actions are executed, whether good or bad. The card is discarded after resolving its effects.
Continuous Use: These stay with you and provide a continuous benefit that may increase your Strength or Skill stats, provide some new unique ability, or event provide a new companion to go with you along the journey. There is a limit to how many of this card type you may carry (3), and you may not have multiple of the same card.
1x Use: These stay with you until you decide to use the card to gain its effect. Typically, the perks provided are very strong so deciding when the best time to use them is important; they could save you from being forced to travel elsewhere on the map or even protect your precious gemstones from thugs. There is a limit to how many of this card type you may carry (3), and you may not have multiple of the same card.
Quest Cards are what will determine the direction of your adventure. They will provide a list of faceted gems that must be collected in order to complete the quest. Once you have collect the necessary rough gems and had them refined into faceted gems at the jeweler, you can turn the set of faceted gems in to complete the Quest Card. You can place the completed quest in front of you, and depending on which mode you are playing, the money value at the bottom may be important because these total values on your completed Quest Cards will determine the overall winner of the game. You can get new Quest Cards from mini-games in Gem Town and Fate Cards; there is a limit to how many Uncompleted Quest Cards you can carry (3).
There are a few types of gems in Gem Hunt.
Rough Gems: These are the gems you will extract from the mines across the map. You will take the actual plastic gem tokens for each of these you collect. While in this form, they will not complete Quest Cards, but they may be sold for money if necessary. To turn these gems into the faceted gems needed for the Quest Cards, visit the jeweler in Gem Town. There is a limit on how many Rough Gems you can carry though.
Faceted Gems: Once a jeweler has refined your rough gems, you will swap the rough gem tokens for the gem cards of that type. However, gem cutting is finicky and may not always succeed. There is a dice roll involved with gem cutting and is on the player reference cards.
Oyster Cards/Pearls: Once you dig for Oysters requiring a dice roll, you will draw Oyster card(s). Unlike the gems, you don't know what you will get within an Oyster. There are different types and quantities of pearls within these as shown on the front of the cards. These do not require refinement/cutting, but there is a limit on how many you can carry.
Here are the other components that will be used during the game.
The game is fairly easy to learn with only a few things requiring additional references to the rules. While I am going over most of the rules here, I will not be covering everything in fine detail so please refer to the rules for complete details.
The setup of the game is pretty straight forward.
- Lay out the game board, tokens, dice, gem bag, and other components of the game; there is a Jeep token that should be placed on the board in the Jeep starting location in the Jungle.
- Separate the different decks types, shuffle them, and place them face down.
- Quest Cards
- Character Cards/Passports
- Four Fate Cards Decks: Desert, Jungle, Mountain, Beaten Path;
- Oyster Cards are shuffled and placed face down; there are different faces on these cards.
- Faceted Gem Cards need separated but not shuffled since they are all the same: Ruby, Emerald, Diamond, Opal, Sapphire, Topaz
- Each player will receive:
- Three Character Cards; they will select one character card to keep and the rest return to the stack.
- Two Quest Cards; they will keep both of these cards.
- Two Quick Reference Cards
Complete Quest Cards by collecting rough gems, refining them at a jeweler in exchange for faceted gem cards, and turning in the requested faceted gems per the Quest Cards. The players must decide what they want the end game trigger to be.
- Time Based - Select to play for 60 or 120 minutes. Whoever has the highest total value for their completed Quest Cards is the winner.
- Money Based - Select how much money a player must have in completed quests cards to trigger the end of the game; this could be $125,000, $250,000, or whatever value you want to play to. The first to reach that amount is the winner.
- Speed Game - This is a quicker game where you play until one player completes a Quest Card becoming the winner of the game.
You are ready to play!
On a player's turn, they have one action during the Movement Phase (optional) and one action during the Action Phase, which can be taken in any order. Note, some turns could result in additional actions depending on how the player uses their turn. You basically need to travel across the island visiting the various mine and settlements to gather the necessary resources to complete your Quest Cards to fulfill the end game condition.
There are a few different types of actions available during the Movement Phase.
- Move: Roll the Six sided die and move up to that many Spaces/Hexes on the board.
- If you have the jeep, you will add 3 to your roll; otherwise, movement is the same with the jeep. The jeep can be left behind or stolen by other players.
- Cross a Bridge, Ride the Ferry: Roll the Eight sided die and refer to the player reference for the outcome. If successful, your movement ends on the other side, and you draw a fate card, if you don't end in Gem Town or another named location.
- Take the Rail Road: Similar to Crossing a Bridge, but you will not draw a fate card once on the other side.
- Ride the Zip Line: You pay the fee ($500 or $1,000) to ride down the zip line; no dice roll for this action. The cost is based on which location you start and end on. Continue with the Action Phase, if you haven't used your action yet.
If any movement action ends in a Mine or Oyster Cove, you may immediately Mine/Dig at that location even if you have already performed an Action Phase action this turn.
There are a few different types of actions available during the Action Phase.
- Draw a Fate Card: This happens automatically when you finish a movement into a regional space. I imagine if you opted to not move on a turn and were on a regional space, you would use your action doing this as well since you must perform at least one action each turn.
- Mine/Dig: If you are on a Mine or Oyster Cove, you can roll an eight side die and refer to the player reference for the outcome. It is possible to get 0-2 of that gem, or if luck is not on your side, break your tools.
- Mini-Games: In Gem Town, there are mini-games you can take part to earn extra money, Quest Cards, or even rough gems. Refer to the player references for these mini games.
- Mingling at the Museum
- Working at the Diner
- Arm Wrestling
- Transactions: You can sell unneeded gems, have rough gems refined into Faceted Gems (requires a roll), buy rations/tools when you are out, and turning in faceted gems to complete Quest Cards.
- You can also turn in one of each faceted gem (not pearls) to the Museum to claim the Museum Trophy, which is worth a lot of money ($100,000). This is essentially a public Quest Card anyone can work towards and is awarded to the first player to fulfill this request.
- There is a black market that players can visit for other unique encounters requiring an eight sided die roll.
Players will be able to hold a limited number of rough gems, Oyster Cards, Fate Cards, and other minor limitations unless started otherwise by Fate Cards or character abilities.
- Players may have Five Rough Gems and Five Oyster Cards; there are no limit on how many Faceted Gems a player may carry.
- Players may have Three uncompleted Quest Cards, but there is no limited on completed Quest Cards.
- Players may have Three 1x Use Fate Cards and Three Continuous Use Fate Cards, but they may not have two of the same named card.
- Players may not take the jeep on to the railroad and must leave it behind if they ride it. The Jeep can be taken on the zip line.
- Players may take animals onto the railroad and zip line.
We really enjoyed playing this game. The first game was a little rough simply because there are a lot of things to do across the map, and we found ourselves going back into the rules to verify we understood things correctly. The game truly comes down to rolling a six sided die to determine how many spaces you can move, moving towards locations to fulfill your goals, and often rolling an eight sided die to perform various actions and take on Fate card challenges. With so many Fate and Quest Cards, there is a lot of variety in the way each game will go. The included modes of play keep the core game play the same, but offer different end game triggers (time, treasure value, or first to complete a quest).
We feel people who get this game will really enjoy it. it is one that is simple to learn and will take a little while to play. Many games that are easy to learn end very quickly and longer games are buried in rules. Each players turn will typically be under a minute allowing the game to flow quickly resulting in reasonably low player downtime. This is positioned nicely to provide hours of enjoyment without requiring a lot of setup, learning, and dealing with analysis paralysis. We highly recommend checking out their Kickstarter when it launches on Tuesday, August 25th, 2020; this was originally set for August 18th, 2020 but ran into a last minute delay.
If you would like to see a play through of the game, here is a video where we played the game using the Speed Game rules.
We also did a standalone review video if you would like to see our thoughts in a video format.
The Kickstarter page will be live on Tuesday, August 25th, 2020. Be sure to check it out.
We received the product prototype in order to write an honest review; all reviews reflect the honest opinions of the writer.